Sunday, December 6, 2009
THIS MIGHT SOUND FUNNY...
Living in Las Vegas, and being in the business, I've had a unique look at the serious occupation of being funny. If I were to make a list of the best of the best comedians I ever saw, well, um, wait, who am I kidding? I am making a list. That is my raison d'etat (rough translation: raisin tattoo. I think. Not sure. Maybe look it up.)
THE FIVE MOST SERIOUSLY FUNNY PEOPLE EVER
(In no particular order, except alphabetical).
He's made films with Steve Martin and Tom Hanks, opened for the biggest names in show business, stolen the show at several MDA telethons and won the admiration of everyone in the business but the one thing Max has taught us all is a most important lesson. BE HELPFUL. MAX ALEXANDER continues to do good deeds, helpful things, especially for younger talent. What the hell good is it to be a great entertainer if you can't help others? Max taught us that.
Known as the world's greatest singing impressionist, Bob is truly the best there is. His impersonations are more than parody; Bob presents sincere tributes to the best loved voices in the world. I've written special material for Bob's televison appearences and we've co-written some songs and it isn't easy going because Bob always insists on being true to the personality he's presenting. "How would Frank Sinatra say it?" or "What would Dean Martin do?" BOB ANDERSON teaches us that you have to seek perfection in everything you do. No detail is too small when you want to get it just right. And he always does.
Everyone on the planet tried to get on The Tonight Show, but on the final week, Johnny Carson himself insisted that his favorite comic- musician PETE BARBUTTI come on one final time. And he did. And he killed. My oldest brother worships this performer and when I produced my first Las Vegas show, we needed a great comic so I called Pete. I'd watch him, closely. No night was the same. A jazz comic riffing for laughs, mixing it up, improving the improv, playing with the familar. When George Carlin told me that whenever he guest hosted The Tonight Show, he'd ask for Pete to be booked I knew that said it all. PETE BARBUTTI has never been afraid to be 'too hip for the room.' He never plays down to the audience. No sir. He brings us up. Pete teaches us originality every time he takes the stage.
Frank Sinatra hand-picked him as his opening act and from the early 80's until Ol' Blue Eyes retired, TOM DREESEN was on the bill, playing to sold out audiences all over the world. David Letterman asked him to guest host and he was great. His new book provides us an American comedy history lesson. This funnyman happens to be a decent human being who always works clean. His humor is warm and wonderful and audiences just adore him. When we first met, I asked him about a rumor that he had secretly written jokes for a fellow comic whose act had grown stale. "Oh, we all tried to help," Tom said modestly. I later found out that Tom had single handedly written loads of material to help the comedian in need. He's done more private acts of kindness for artists who needed help. I have learned by example and now, I write-without credit-whenever I'm asked. TOM DREESEN teaches us to be generous with our talents.
The Number-One specialty act on college campuses year-after-year, this comic-magician is always working, often playing six nights (in six different states) per week, JUSTIN KREDIBLE hit the road running and never looked back. Jason Mraz took him on his world tour, Rachael Ray brings him on "on the regular," and others are encouraging him to star in a sitcom. Along the way, the magically funny JUSTIN KREDIBLE keeps working, night-after-night. I've been working on something with this likeable young star, whenever he can find a spare hour, which is rare indeed. This comic conjuror teaches us that there is no such thing as 'having it made,' that you have to go out and make it every day.
A friend leaned over to me just prior to a show at the Beauty Bar in downtown Las Vegas. "Will? This guy coming on is as weird as Steven Wright, clever as Steve Martin and smart as George Carlin. His name is NICK THUNE." My friend books comics and knows a thing or two about funny. So I watched the young comedian's set. With a musician's perfect timing, Nick ventured 'out there' and seemed happy to be there. Some jokes didn't get laughs. Many did. Nick was brave and brilliant. Two years later, NICK THUNE becomes a regular on the mainstream Jay Leno Show. I tune-in to see how much he's sold-out his art to commerce. The answer was: zero! Nick is original and authentic and performs his stuff as weirdly written. It is beautiful. NICK THUNE teaches us what Shakespeare wrote about in Act I of Hamlet: To thine own self be true.
- ► 2010 (85)
- STARS ON THE LAS VEGAS STRIP
- FOR 2010, I WISH YOU BLISS
- GETTING BLOWN-OUT on Christmas Spirits: December 2...
- HANG A SHINING STAR
- HOLLYWOOD GOSSIP TO THE MAX
- MY STREET NAME
- STEVE WYNN IS A HELLUVA GUY
- Painted by FRANK SINATRA
- DEAR ABBY: Are You Dead?
- THIS MIGHT SOUND FUNNY...
- MY SPECIALTY
- TYPING, HYPING & SKYPING
- NICK THUNE on JAY LENO THIS WEEK!
- ▼ December (14)